I don’t think everyone knows just how bad the fatigue can be. Sometimes, when I’m deep in a depressive episode, I start to feel fatigued the minute I wake up. My body hurts — yes, depression can cause physical pain — and getting the kids ready for school seems like it’s an impossible task.
All my energy goes to getting them to school and when I get back home, I yearn to go to sleep again. So, I do.
When I wake up (again), my limbs are 50 pounds each. Thankfully, my housekeeper comes Monday through Friday, and she’s very understanding and not at all judgmental.
I do what I can while the kids are at school, and if anybody asks I always say I’ve had a busy day. I don’t like feeling the shame that comes along with depression. I can never shake it, though. I’ll even go to great lengths to be busy or appear to be busy, even if it runs me into the ground. I guess I’d rather be rundown than be called lazy. It’s stupid, but sometimes I feel like I don’t contribute — to society or to my family.
I’m so embarrassed of my limitations, but I shouldn’t be. It’s OK that I need to rest. It’s OK to rely on my housekeeper. It’s OK that I don’t work (outside the home).
I stay at home for my kids, sure. But I also stay at home because I don’t feel like I could keep a job now that my depression is as severe as it is. When I did work, I was constantly calling in and it created tension with my coworkers. I felt guilty and ashamed, which led to more downward spirals and more missed work.
Honestly, maintaining my depression and anxiety is a full-time job, and there’s no room to slack off without serious repercussions. Even if I do let up for just one day I could be enter a depressive episode and become suicidal.
I should be proud of my work to stay healthy. And I am, but it’s hard for others to understand how hard I’m working just to be OK, so I don’t share. That’s the thing about invisible illnesses, people just don’t get it, especially older generations. That and the stigma of depression make me stifle my triumphs when really I should be celebrating.
I need to let go of the shame. I’m going to remember that I’m taking care of myself not just for me but my kids and husband. They only benefit from me being healthy and happy. And when being happy and healthy becomes a consistent thing, a few days here and there where I can’t get out of bed aren’t going to be a big deal.
My family, my kids especially, will see me take care of myself and learn how to prioritize their own mental health. There’s great merit in that; my generation (Millennials) definitely wasn’t taught that. But we’re talking about it now. Millennials actually have higher rates of depression than any other generation. Read about that here.
Now that I think about it, there isn’t anything lazy about me — I grind harder than most, even if I do need a nap here and there.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.